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Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Monday, February 25, 2013

Guest Post: Autumn Laidler's Teacher Twitter Tuesdays

Dear Readers: I'm so glad to announce our first guest teacher blogger! I've had my students (even other people's students) guest blog on this site before. However, this is the first time I've convinced another teacher to take over the keyboard. Well, it was worth the wait as this first teacher guest is the great Autumn Laidler, the gal I blogged about in "Somebody That We All Should Know, Vol 1". So, without further ado, here is Ms. Laidler to share her experiences with Twitter in Education and new forms of professional learning....


I am so happy to be guest blogging on Teaching Like it’s 2999!  I have been a Jennie Magiera fangirl for a long time and learn from her daily.  I teach intermediate science at National Teachers Academy in Chicago and have 1:1 iPads in my classroom.  In the spirit of Jennie’s blog, I am blogging about something that reflects learning and sharing with technology and has been inspiring to me.

As many of you have read here, recently a group of teachers ran a new type of conference called PLAYDATE.  It was an inspiring day to say the least, but the best part for me was to see teachers at my school new to technology jump in with a new and exciting idea, Twitter Tuesday.  Jenny Lynch and Mia Leonard shared their plan at the PLAYOFF slam to start tweeting with students on Tuesdays.  Jennie Magiera and I had both tweeted with students, but to have new teachers on board and with students from kindergarten, first grade, fourth grade, middle school and junior high was bigger and better.

The teachers were excited but some were still a bit hesitant to jump right in and at this point not everyone had started a Twitter account.  What a perfect opportunity to collaborate!  The PLAYDATE momentum continued and we scheduled a staff mini session to “play” with Twitter.  We kept to a simple plan of having a quick introduction with some Q and A, then  some sacred explore time to play and see how we could make Twitter Tuesday special for our kids and community.

After the session we came up with a few ideas to spark our first Tuesday on Twitter.  We used a school hashtag #ntalearns, came up with a community question that could appeal and apply to our K-8 students and came up with some quick mini-lesson ideas to introduce the tool to students.  Our first grade team even made a Twitter anchor chart to share with students!

The first question was “What do you like best about being a member of our school community?”  The responses school-wide included special things like swimming in our school’s pool, having great friends, learning new and interesting things, having field trips and guest teachers in our classrooms.  Simple question, inspiring answers and interaction between kids who may never see each other during the day because they are a first grader and they are tweeting an eighth grader, yet can communicate and respond to each other with a common tool and community question.  Our Junior High kids were encouraging our Kinder students who were learning to swim, our fourth students wondered about favorite subjects of others and got personal replies from kids around the school.  Community was being built around our favorite things we had in common.  Inspiring.  Read more here.

The more surprising thing was that Twitter Tuesday never really ended!  Teachers continued to tweet throughout the week with the hashtag sharing classroom learning, further questions and ideas from our students.  I visited with Jenny Lynch’s class after Tuesday and had conversations about their tweets, audience was important to them, they found it so amazing that I was reading their tweets and knew what was happening in their classroom.  Jenny also told me that a few of her kids have family members now following them on twitter.  So the learning goes beyond the floors of our school and is now being enjoyed by families! Finding ways to build relationships is central to my teaching philosophy.  Technology has been a surprising tool to do this and this is just one example of its power to connect people.  

I ask that you please follow our learning on Twitter and support our young people by following Melissa Hausser’s class, Anita Huffman’s class, Erin Emanuel’s class and the two teacher’s linked above.  You can also follow my students.

Twitter Tuesday is hopefully the first of many mini-PLAYDATE sessions.  Our plan is to host monthly sessions with a focus on a tool for further exploration.  Our next adventure will be in book creating.  We are growing in our collaboration by adding a Google Hangout with our friends at Burley Elementary who embrace the spirit of collaboration as much as we do at NTA. 


Thanks, Autumn, for that great post! 
You can learn more with Autumn by following her on Twitter at @MsLaidler or checking out her blog "Science in the City".

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